My recent trip to Guangzhou, China left me with mixed feelings. I have never really understood how you would save money by travelling to China, paying for accommodation and food and then still having to purchase the furniture, pay the agents fees, as well as all shipping and duty charges. Surely this would work out to be the more expensive route?
Well it seems that in the past it was possible, but now with the current Rand exchange rate it is proving to be more and more difficult to get the bargains. I think it was a bit a surprise to all parties concerned when my 2 clients got together and offered to take me with them to China in search of their furniture, curtaining fabrics and accessories for their homes. What I discovered is that the prices for most of the furniture items were either the same as back home or more expensive. Sure, there was alot of negotiating taking place and the prices did drop dramatically thereafter, but after factoring in the shipping and duties already mentioned, I am not convinced that there will be much of a saving. We await the final quotation from the agents to make a decision here.
However I must admit, the quality of most of the furniture items was better than I had expected. I was not that optomistic about what we might find in China and was therefore pleasantly surprised by the quality of the items that I saw. Of course you will get what you pay for, so the more expensive items were definitely of better quality.
We spent most of our time in The Louvre, a multi-storey furniture shopping center in Shunde. Shunde, however, was an hour's drive from our hotel in Guangzhou and the traffic in China is rather bad. Our daily drive to The Louvre often took up to 2 hours, which was a terrible waste of time each day when we had so much to source.
Each floor of The Louvre had something new to offer, in general the stores were focused on furniture items such as couches, coffee tables and beds. But moving onto the higher levels of the shopping center you would find stores dedicated to artworks, some to vases, lamps, obje. The top levels had the most expensive furniture which was well worth a look, but rather depressing to say the least as the items were totally unaffordable.
The fabric selection was incredibly disappointing. I am not sure if we were taken to all the wrong places but the designs were rather out of date and my clients left China disappointed in this department.
On the last day I did manage to get away to explore the most amazing Chinese temple. I spent a good couple of hours here taking in the most detailed architecture I have ever seen. Every inch of this temple is intricately decorated. It was the perfect end to my first experience in China.